Wendy's Wins Fast Food Zagat Survey

Wendy’s was the clear winner in the recent Fast Food version of the Zagat Survey commissioned by the Today Show in its near infinite wisdom. The burger chain won “Top Burger” as well as “Top Overall” of the mega-chains. If you include the smaller chains, Panera Bread took “Top Overall” and “Top Food.”

The survey also considered chain restaurants, with Outback Steakhouse winning “Top Overall” and “Top Food.”

Wendy’s CEO and President Kerrii Anderson issued a press release (for the purpose of self-congratulation) claiming,

“We use fresh, never frozen, beef and make every hamburger to order right off the grill, just like Dave Thomas did when he founded Wendy’s in 1969. We top every sandwich with fresh condiments – tomatoes and onions that we slice every day in our restaurants and whole-leaf lettuce. Quality is our recipe, and a major point of distinction between Wendy’s and other quick-service restaurant chains. We don’t cut corners.”

Isn’t that special. A restaurant can win an award by simply serving actual food.

More results inside.

Zagat Fast Food Results:


Top Food

Wendy’s, Subway, Pizza Hut, Dairy Queen, KFC

Top Overall

Wendy’s, Subway, Pizza Hut, Dairy Queen, McDonald’s

Large and Small Chains:

Top Food

Panera Bread Co., Chick-fil-A, Chipotle, Quizno’s Sub, Wendy’s

Top Overall

Panera Bread Co., Chick-fil-A, Chipotle, Sonic Drive-In, Quizno’s Sub

Chain Restaurants:

Top Food

Outback Steakhouse, Red Robin, Cracker Barrel, Chili’s Grill & Bar, Olive Garden

Top Overall

Outback Steakhouse, Cracker Barrel, Red Robin, Olive Garden, Chili’s Grill & Bar

So there you go, the best of the worst. —MEGHANN MARCO

Full Fast Food Results (PDF) [Zagat]
Chain Restaurant Results (PDF) [Zagat]

Zagat/Today Show Fast-Food Survey
Wendy’s Named “Best Burger” by Zagat Survey (Press Release)[Business Wire]
(Photo: cmorran123)


Edit Your Comment

  1. matukonyc says:

    How on earth is Quiznos on any “Top” list of anything? Their food is inedible!

  2. slapstick says:

    Cracker Barrel is pretty delicious, but they’re expensive and I *hate* waiting for a table in their stupid gift shop.

    Olive Garden, KFC, Pizza Hut – these places don’t serve food!

    I do love Sonic for their delicious limeades, and Chick-fil-A is delicious, even though the universe conspires against me because I always crave it on a Sunday.

  3. Hallik09 says:

    Where is Ruby Tuesday and Red Lobster!?

  4. quantum-shaman says:

    I like Arby’s “market fresh” sandwiches. The BLT is extra yummy. You can’t fake a BLT.

    Outback is good but too expensive. You can get just as good a steak for a lot less money at Lone Star.

  5. North Antara says:

    > How on earth is Quiznos on any “Top” list of anything? Their food is inedible!


    I think what they did, was choose 5 random restaurants from each category (except maybe the “Chain Restaurants” category – I would mostly agree with that), and put them in order from best to worst. That would explain why places such as Quiznos and Sonic are on there.

  6. nweaver says:

    No In and Out?


  7. winnabago says:


    Are they closed on sundays?

  8. billybastion says:

    all of these places are sick.

    support your local mom and pop restaraunts, where they might actually serve real food and not mass produced products.

  9. nweaver says:

    Remember, Zagat’s methodology is The Suck, because it is a survey based on people voluntarilly submitting.

    So people tend to only submit for places they like.

  10. TinaB says:

  11. mantari says:

    I forgot. Was Cracker Barrel the one that hated gays, or was it black people?

  12. quantum-shaman says:

    @mantari: Denny’s hates black people. I love their breakfast and their coffee.

  13. quantum-shaman says:

    @billybastion: Ditto. Actually, I do that as much as possible but how would you survey it?

  14. slapstick says:

    @winnabago: Yeah, the guy who founded it was really religious, and felt that Sunday should be a day of rest to spend with your family. At least I think that’s what I read on the poster on the wall.

    From the Chick-fil-A website: Closed Sundays. It’s part of the Chick-fil-A® recipe.
    Admittedly, closing all of our restaurants every Sunday makes us a rarity in this day and age. But it’s a little habit that has always served us well, so we’re planning to stick with it.

    Our founder, Truett Cathy, wanted to ensure that every Chick-fil-A employee and restaurant operator had an opportunity to worship, spend time with family and friends or just plain rest from the work week. Made sense then, still makes sense now.

  15. He says:

    I find Wendy’s franchises have the most variable quality of any chain. I love them but sometimes their “fresh” means lukewarm.

  16. Tallanvor says:

    @mantari: Cracker Barrel had policies against employing gay people. –There’s a documentary that talks about how one former employee was fired when they decided to make it policy.

    These days they say they don’t discriminate and deny that they even had discriminatory policies in the past. Needless to say that when I lived in the south, I absolutely refused to eat there.

  17. nightbird says:

    Another voice of dissent. Always go with indpendent whenever possible. That said, my chain faves are Panera for overall, Red lobster for reasonably priced seafood that isn’t all fried. Bonefish Grill is better quality and more expensive and…ahem…doesn’t agree with me. Texas Roadhouse for good steak at a reasonable price. The only downside is the “atmosphere”. Honestly, what adult chooses a place to eat on how fun it appears to be?

  18. DeeJayQueue says:

    @quantum-shaman: no no no, Denny’s hates white people, at least the Denny’s closest to me. I never get good service there and I always notice the not-white people getting seated ahead of me, served food faster than me, and just getting preferential treatment.

    Wendy’s is tits. They have by far the best fast food around. Once in elementary school we had a guy from Wendy’s corporate come (it could have been the local store manager for all I know but he didn’t seem greasy enough) and he said to us “Do you know why Wendy’s hamburger patties are square?” and we were all like “noooooooooo” and he said “Because we don’t cut corners.” nyuk nyuk.

  19. Buran says:

    @slapstick: Except what if you’re Jewish or some other faith that has its Sabbath on, say, Saturday, and you work there?

    “Oh, we think you should switch to Sunday”.

  20. Buran says:

    @DeeJayQueue: If it’s that bad you should file a complaint against Denny’s for racial discrimination in service, which is illegal.

  21. Buran says:

    There are no Wendy’s here in St. Louis. All of them suddenly closed and the only explanation is “circumstances beyond our control”. No more Frosties for me … so I took my business to Dairy Queen and their Blizzards.

    Good job, Dave.

  22. slapstick says:

    @Buran: Then I guess you should request that day off and find something else to do on Sunday? It’s not my policy, I’m just relaying it. I think they should not only be open on Sundays, but 24 hours a day, and should deliver chicken directly into my mouth.

  23. Canadian Impostor says:

    Quizno’s is delicious.

  24. BeastMasterJ says:

    Sigh. Am I the only one here who will defend Quizno’s? The sandwitches are tasty!

    Spogmonkey: “We like the suuuuuuuubs…”

    And is there a maximum number of locations or a geographical range or radius that a company can expand to before the masses decry them all as horrid?

  25. BeastMasterJ says:

    @Jason: I’m not alone! yay!

  26. RandomHookup says:

    “Wendy’s Wendy’s CEO…”

    That might be a cool name for a restaurant. You could play Lisa Lisa and Duran Duran, serve PuPu platters and have special cross promotions with Little Caesars.

  27. quantum-shaman says:

    @RandomHookup: LMAO, I spit coffee in my keyboard on that one.
    @Buran: The Jewish people can go get a job at Kosher Nosh or something if they don’t like it. As a matter of fact, what a FABULOUS idea for a restaurant. What I wouldn’t pay for a good bagel with lox and a schmeer. I should be so lucky.

  28. rmz says:

    Oh boy, yet another fast food thread and yet another deluge of hippies yelling “fight the power, boycott anything with locations in more than one city! Mom & Pop stores forever!”

    For the record, Quiznos is good. Subway, however, is often inedible. 50% of the time I go to Subway the bread is rock-hard stale and obviously from the previous day.

  29. mikyrok says:

    Quiznos is indeed delicious

  30. JDAC says:

    You can’t trust any list that includes McDonalds in the top 5 of anything.

    I do like Chick Fil A and Sonic, but where’s Hardee’s? That’s a meaty, massive burger, made fresh and much better than Wendy’s?

  31. Youthier says:

    @Buran: I know some Adventists that work at a Chick-A-Fila and they are very accomodating of the “no work Friday evening/Saturday” rules. At least locally.

    I actuallly agree with the list. Except for McDonald’s and KFC. Ick. But Wendy’s, Quiznos, Cracker Barrell, Outback… all places I like. And my brother planned out our roadtrip to Florida to hit all the Sonics we could since we don’t have one near us.

  32. acambras says:


    Since all their side dishes seem to be swimming in pork fat, I’m thinking that maybe they hate Jews, Muslims, and vegetarians, too.

  33. mmcnary says:

    @Buran: Did they really close all of the Wendy’s? Maybe St. Louis should trade White Castles to KC for Wendy’s triples.

  34. bluemeep says:

    This poll result pleases Zombie Dave Thomas.

    I’ve actually taken quite a shine to their frescatta sandwiches, even if I have no idea how to actually pronounce them. It may be three bucks of a turkey sammich, but it’s damn good and I’d probably spend the same amount on the meat and condiments myself, make one sandwich, forget the fixins are in the fridge, have it go nasty… Etc., etc. Wouldn’t be the first time that happened.

    Personally, I’d have put Roy Rogers at the top of the list. All of the ones I’ve ever been at have been clean as a whistle and it’s the only restaurant I’ve ever been able to order sasparilla at. Shame there’s only a handful open anymore…

    @JDAC: That was my initial thought. They even have lousy napkins.

  35. Buran says:

    @mmcnary: We do at least have White Castle. I don’t care for their food that much personally but they’re here and they have some very clean and well-kept restaurants.

    I do like their chocolate shakes.

  36. roche says:

    If Pizza Hut is on the list the list immediately becomes null and void.

  37. G-Dog says:

    Wendy’s is the only fast burger joint I’ll eat at. $2.10 for a salad and cup of chili that fills me up w/o making me feel like McNauseous? Magic!

  38. Gloria says:

    Blargh. Wendy’s is alright, definitely head and shoulders above the other chains, but if you’re in Canada, go to Harvey’s. Delicious grilled burgers, AND they serve onion rings.

  39. Dubnacious says:

    No Popeyes Chicken?

    That’s crazy! I’ve had Three Star Chefs tell me that’s what they eat at their Menu creation meetings. I used to live on Wendy’s 99cent menu when I was a Bike Messenger in NYC. Clean restrooms too. Cracker Barrel has totally fallen off in recent years. If you make it down to NC you have to check out Cookout, killer grilled chicken sandwich.
    Zagat does a thankless job, fairly well. Thank you Zagat

  40. BartClan says:

    Used to work at

  41. sandwich_pants says:

    Chipotle beats Baja Fresh = INVALID SURVEY RESULT! try again please Zagat. Sure that’s just my opinion, but I loves me my burritos, and Baja does a good job and has the best salsa bar of the chains and so on and so forth.

    I must say, my latest Wendy’s experience was quite pleasant (I get chili and chicken nuggets usually) because the service was fast and friendly and communicated well. The last couple times before that the help at this particular Wendy’s communicated about as well as a drunk hobo.

  42. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    As far as burger places go, Wendy’s gets my vote over McDonald’s and BK. Denny’s just hates all people (worst service ever).

  43. Asvetic says:

    Interesting Outback was listed but not Carrabba’s Italian Grill.

    Carrabba’s would have smoked Olive Garden, and possibly even Outback.

  44. mcrbpc says:


    I heard the STL Wendy’s closed due to some problem with the franchisee that apparently owned all the Wendy’s in the area (including as far away as Wentzville). We still have them in Columbia and KC so I’m happy.

  45. JDAC says:

    @Asvetic: Oh shit, Olive Garden IS on the list, now I know this survey is complete bullshit!

  46. allthatsevil says:

    That’s funny. I quit going to Wendy’s a couple years ago, after getting food poisoning from their baked potato (or possibly the sour cream – not sure). That’s right, my boyfriend and I both had the baked potato with sour cream and spent the whole night puking and shitting our guts out. With only one toilet and one trashcan between us, let’s just say it’s an experience we’d both love to forget. I can’t even look at a Wendy’s without cringing anymore.

  47. jaewon223 says:

    i eat wendy’s almost everyday. i don’t think i can do that with any other fast food restaurant chain. and no i am not obese. if anybody even looks at a McDonald’s hamburger vs Wendy’s hamburger it’s not even a contest. McDonald tastes like crap.

    it’s nice seeing the top winners, but i’m more interested in the bottom rung fellows.

  48. mermaidshoes says:

    dude, i’ve seen people throw up on the floor of outback after sampling their meal. okay, so maybe it was only one person, but still. never going back there…

  49. The HZA. says:

    I have a delicious Quiznos by my house. And I have been to some not so good Quiznos.

  50. bukkler says:

    Heh. Back in the eighties, a friend went to apply at Chik-fil-a. During the interview, the manager asked him if he was married, how many children he had, and what his religion was.

    My friend said, “look, I may be new to the job market, but I’m pretty darned sure all those questions are illegal for you to ask me. Keep the job. No thanks.” and left. I hope their hiring practices have improved! Great food, tho.

  51. Wynner3 says:

    I don’t mind Wendy’s but I love In N Out. Too bad A&W is disappearing, I love their cheese kurds and rootbeer floats.

  52. Kalik says:

    Four questions…

    Where’s Rubio’s?
    Where’s In-N-Out?
    And why is McDonald’s on there?!
    Who submitted the votes?

  53. Artest Pilot says:

    yeah I think In and Out should be on the top of the list. Their food is always fresh. Too regional maybe?

  54. Uurp says:

    What’s an In And Out? And I mean that both ways.

  55. AndyDuncan says:

    Isn’t a Zagat survey of Fast Food chains sort of like a Special Olympics version?

    Does anyone really care?

  56. Firstborn Dragon says:

    Let’s see..

    1) Wendies – The moment they took the greek pita off their menu I have hardly gone. It was the BEST thing on their. Now it’s either a baked potato, or a salad.

    2) McDicks – Last time I got something from there I was sick. And it was only a shake. As for the veggie burgers… WHO THE HELL BOILS THEM? Haven’t been there in years.

    3) Dairy Queen – Only things I get there are the ice cream cakes and pizzas.

    4) Quizzno’s – Ever since Subway discontiuned my favorit sub I’ve liked them the best outa all the sub places.

    5) Pizza Hut – Best pizza I can get around here. The place we order from (Closer) tastes like cardboard at times.

    Never heard of the rest except for Olive Garden, and I don’t think we have one of em around here anymore.